In Lethal Weapon, Martin Riggs stars as Mel Gibson, an emotionally-scarred, psychologically disturbed Hollywood actor, oh no wait…I’ve got that the wrong way round. I’ll start again. Mel Gibson stars as Martin Riggs, an emotionally-scarred, psychologically disturbed ex-special forces veteran now making a living as a Narcotics cop. Due to the recent trauma of losing his wife, Riggs is a hair trigger away from a full mental breakdown, something recognized by his superiors in the force. After nearly killing an unarmed suspect during a raid, they decide that the best place for a psychotic nihilist with a death wish is not the therapist’s couch, but… the Homicide division. Riggs ends up being paired with staid family man Roger Murtagh (Danny Glover) who’s none too pleased at having to act as a cross between the Samaritans and a babysitter.
Murtagh has his own problems. Firstly, his wife can’t cook. Secondly, he’s just turned fifty and is counting down the days to his retirement from the force. Cop logic indicates this is the most dangerous point in any law enforcer’s career culminating in D-Day, the day before you retire when the likelihood of death/serious maiming approaches near certainty. Thirdly, and most seriously, Murtagh has contracted the world’s first recognised case of TOFTS disease (Too Old For This Shit). TOFTS manifests itself mainly by the sufferer frequently uttering the words, ‘I’m too old for this shit’, and generally just being a grumpy old bastard.
Despite their unlikely partnership, a budding bromance develops between Riggs and Murtagh, similar to how Stockholm syndrome hostages bond with their kidnappers. Soon enough they’re chuntering along like an interracial Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, but with guns, mullets and post traumatic stress disorder.
But into every relationship a little rain must fall. Step forward Gary Busey in full-on bat-out-of-hell demented mode. Busey is ‘Mr. Joshua’, the chief enforcer for a cabal of mercenaries now looking to move into the lucrative world of drug smuggling. Joshua arranges the deaths of Murtagh’s old army buddy along with his daughter and even finds time to burn his arm in a show of loyalty to his boss, ‘The General’. Rumours that the immolation scene was not in the script and was just a normal day in the life of Gary Busey have not been confirmed.
The General becomes increasingly anxious over the police investigation into his illicit activities and decides that both Riggs and Murtagh must be silenced. He also presumably noticed the fates of all the other suspects encountered by Riggs up to that point: shot fatally.
Mr. Joshua kidnaps Murtagh’s daughter in a bid to flush out all the information the cops have gathered. Everyone gathers at the drop off point in the middle of the desert in which the ensuing melee sees several henchmen killed and Riggs, Murtagh and Murtagh Junior captured. Riggs is tortured with electroshocks whereas Murtagh receives the considerably less sophisticated technique of being punched in the face repeatedly. Neither of them wilt under the pressure though and Riggs is able to escape his captor and go on the rampage in the villain compound killing all the cannon fodder, but conveniently allowing the main two antagonists to escape.
This allows the duo to split up and hunt down their respective arch-enemies. Murtagh goes after the General and Riggs scurries after Joshua like a coked-up rat up a drainpipe. Murtagh catches the General attempting to flee in a car laden with heroin and grenades. He shoots the driver thereby causing the car to crash and the General to perish in an explosion that spreads a cloud of heroin over the surrounding neighbourhood, proving once and for all that justice is poetic (and incredibly violent). Riggs tracks down Joshua to Murtagh’s home, but rather than simply arresting him, challenges him to a ‘title fight’ to find out who the greater lunatic is. Dozens of policemen stand and watch as the fight takes on Rockyesque proportions, but eventually Riggs prevails. As Joshua is cuffed and restrained he manages to grab a gun and makes a final desperate lunge at our heroes. In almost Olympic unison they both swivel and shoot him dead before he has a chance to pull the trigger. Now that’s what I call justifiable homicide.
In the aftermath, Riggs turns up to Murtagh’s house on Christmas Day with a gift. It’s the hollow point bullet he had been saving to kill himself, but no longer has need of!
Awww. Merry Xmas to you too, Sergeant Riggs. And Happy Hanukkah, Mr Gibson.